(19)
(11)EP 3 334 549 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
27.11.2019 Bulletin 2019/48

(21)Application number: 16835859.6

(22)Date of filing:  10.08.2016
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B23B 3/26  (2006.01)
B23D 21/04  (2006.01)
B23B 5/16  (2006.01)
(86)International application number:
PCT/US2016/046416
(87)International publication number:
WO 2017/027630 (16.02.2017 Gazette  2017/07)

(54)

TRAVELLING PIPE CUTTER WITH A CUTTING TOOL FOR LARGE DIAMETER PIPES

BEWEGLICHER ROHRSCHNEIDER MIT SCHNEIDWERKZEUG FÜR ROHRE MIT GROSSEM DURCHMESSER

COUPE-TUBE MOBILE AVEC OUTIL DE COUPE POUR TUBE À GRAND DIAMÈTRE


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 10.08.2015 US 201562203382 P

(43)Date of publication of application:
20.06.2018 Bulletin 2018/25

(73)Proprietor: Illinois Tool Works Inc.
Glenview, IL 60025 (US)

(72)Inventors:
  • PIERCE, Kenneth, R.
    Arlington Heights, IL 60004 (US)
  • GIBERMAN, Alexander, S.
    Northbrook, IL 60062 (US)
  • GEARHART, Michael, W.
    Prospect Heights, IL 60070 (US)

(74)Representative: Trinks, Ole 
Meissner Bolte Patentanwälte Rechtsanwälte Partnerschaft mbB Postfach 10 26 05
86016 Augsburg
86016 Augsburg (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
EP-A1- 2 213 399
CN-U- 203 925 294
US-A- 2 396 289
US-A- 3 915 246
US-A- 4 499 934
US-A- 6 146 067
US-A1- 2010 166 516
CN-U- 203 925 294
US-A- 2 230 569
US-A- 3 645 308
US-A- 4 397 363
US-A- 5 173 013
US-A1- 2008 005 907
US-A1- 2014 026 731
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description

    FIELD OF THE INVENTION



    [0001] The present disclosure generally relates to cutting tools for pipe machining apparatuses and, more particularly, to a travelling pipe cutter according to the preamble of claim 1 for machining large diameter pipes.

    [0002] Such a travelling pipe cutter is known from US 2014/0026731 A1.

    BACKGROUND



    [0003] Pipe machining apparatuses, such as travelling pipe cutters, which carry a slitting saw around a cylindrical hollow vessel or pipe, are known in the art. Travelling pipe cutters may be suitable for cutting through a wall of a cylindrical vessel having various thicknesses.

    [0004] When cutting large diameter cylindrical vessels, such as those having a diameter greater than two meters, it may be difficult to cut through an outer wall of that vessel, especially if the thickness of that outer wall is greater than two centimeters. A traditional travelling pipe cutter that uses a chain to travel around a cylindrical vessel may not be able to create a sufficient amount of downward force to press a cutting tool into and through a wall of a large diameter cylindrical vessel. Moreover, cutting members used by traditional travelling pipe cutters can be inefficient in cutting large diameter cylindrical vessels and/or encounter issues in efficiently removing the cut-material after it is cut without clogging up the travelling pipe cutter.

    SUMMARY



    [0005] It would be desirable to have a travelling pipe cutter which is able to more readily cut through and bevel a wall of a large diameter cylindrical vessel than traditional travelling pipe cutters with lesser metal removal rate capability.

    [0006] The invention provides a travelling pipe cutter according to claim 1. The travelling pipe cutter is adapted to perform cutting-through or beveling of a hollow vessel while travelling around the hollow vessel. The travelling pipe cutter includes a carriage, and a cutting tool attached to the carriage. The cutting tool is adapted to perform cutting-through or beveling of the hollow vessel while travelling around the hollow vessel. The cutting tool includes a conical member, a plurality of grooves, and a plurality of cutting members. The plurality of grooves are disposed in a semi-helix around an outer conical surface of the conical member. Each of the plurality of cutting members is disposed in fixed position within one of the plurality of grooves at a non-zero angle relative to a vertical axis.

    [0007] In a further aspect, a method according to claim 9 of cutting a hollow vessel using the travelling pipe cutter according to claim 1 is disclosed. In one step, a hollow vessel is cut using a cutting tool of a pipe machining apparatus. The cutting tool includes a conical member, a plurality of grooves, and a plurality of cutting members. The plurality of grooves is disposed in a semi-helix around an outer conical surface of the conical member. Each of the cutting members is disposed at a non-zero angle relative to a vertical axis in fixed position within one of the plurality of grooves. In another step, cut-material of the hollow vessel is moved from the cutting members into and out of the plurality of grooves.

    [0008] The scope of the present invention is defined solely by the appended claims and is not affected by the statements within this summary.

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



    [0009] The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings and description. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention.

    FIG. 1 depicts a perspective view of a travelling pipe cutter not according to the invention mounted on a guide track assembly;

    FIG. 2 depicts a perspective view of the travelling pipe cutter mounted on the guide track assembly with a cover of the travelling pipe cutter removed;

    FIG. 3 depicts a perspective view of the travelling pipe cutter with the cover removed and the guide track assembly removed;

    FIG. 4 depicts a perspective view of a frame of the travelling pipe cutter;

    FIG. 5 depicts an alternate perspective view of a frame of the travelling pipe cutter;

    FIG. 6 depicts a perspective view of a base plate of the frame;

    FIG. 7 depicts an elevational view of the base plate of FIG. 6;

    FIG. 8 depicts an elevational view of a wall of the frame;

    FIG. 9 depicts a perspective view of tension interface cable assemblies used with the travelling pipe cutter;

    FIG. 10 depicts a side elevational view of a guide wheel adjuster which forms part of the travelling pipe cutter;

    FIG. 11 depicts a cross-sectional view of the guide wheel adjuster of FIG. 10;

    FIG. 12 depicts a side elevational view of a guide wheel spring which forms part of the travelling pipe cutter;

    FIG. 13 depicts a cross-sectional view of the guide wheel spring of FIG. 12;

    FIG. 14 depicts a perspective view of a capstan assembly which forms part of the travelling pipe cutter and which includes a capstan in accordance with a first embodiment;

    FIG. 15 depicts an exploded, perspective view of the capstan assembly with the capstan of FIG. 14;

    FIG. 16 depicts a cross-sectional view of the capstan assembly with the capstan of FIG. 14;

    FIG. 17 depicts a perspective view of a capstan for use in the capstan assembly in accordance with a second embodiment;

    FIG. 18 depicts a cross-sectional view of the capstan of FIG. 17;

    FIG. 19 depicts a cross-sectional view of the capstan of FIG. 14 and a portion of a drive mechanism;

    FIG. 20 depicts an exploded perspective view of the portion of the drive mechanism of FIG. 19;

    FIGS. 21 and 22 depict end elevation views of the capstan of FIG. 14 and a portion of the drive mechanism;

    FIG. 23 depicts a perspective view of a gearbox assembly which forms part of the travelling pipe cutter;

    FIG. 24 depicts a cross-sectional view of the gearbox assembly of FIG. 23;

    FIG. 25 depicts a partial cross-sectional view of the gearbox assembly of FIG. 23;

    FIG. 26 depicts another cross-sectional view of the gearbox assembly of FIG. 23;

    FIG. 27 depicts an elevational view of a guard assembly which forms part of the travelling pipe cutter;

    FIG. 28 depicts an exploded, perspective view of the guard assembly of FIG. 27;

    FIGS. 29-31 depict side elevation views of the guard assembly of FIG. 27 in an open position;

    FIG. 32 depicts a perspective view of one embodiment of a cutting tool which may be substituted for the cutting tool of the embodiment of FIG. 1 and which is used in a travelling pipe cutter according to the invention;

    FIG. 33 depicts a side view of the cutting tool of the embodiment of FIG. 32;

    FIG. 34 depicts a top view of the cutting tool of the embodiment of FIG. 32; and

    FIG. 35 depicts a flowchart illustrating one embodiment of a method for cutting a hollow vessel.


    DETAILED DESCRIPTION



    [0010] With reference to FIG. 1, an exemplary pipe machining apparatus such as, for example, a travelling pipe cutter 100, is shown. The travelling pipe cutter 100 includes a cutting tool 270 which may be used to cut through and/or form a bevel on a cylindrical hollow vessel 120, such as a large diameter pipe, as the travelling pipe cutter 100 travels around the circumference of the hollow vessel 120. FIG. 1 shows the travelling pipe cutter 100 with a top cover 102. FIG. 2 shows the travelling pipe cutter 100 with the top cover 102 removed.

    [0011] For ease in description, the terms "inner" and "outer" as sometimes used herein are defined in a directional manner in relation to the hollow vessel 120 which the travelling pipe cutter 100 extends around.

    [0012] The travelling pipe cutter 100 generally includes a frame 105, the cutting tool 270 which is mounted on a spindle 284 on the frame 105, a capstan assembly 130 mounted on the frame 105 for driving the travelling pipe cutter 100 around the hollow vessel 120, a gearbox assembly 132 mounted on the frame 105 for driving the spindle 284 of the cutting tool 270, and a guard assembly 134 mounted on the frame 105 and for covering the cutting tool 270 during cutting.

    [0013] As best shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the frame 105 is formed of an inner carriage 136 and an outer carriage 138 which are joined together by a force adjustment assembly 140.

    [0014] As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the inner carriage 136 is formed of a base plate 142 having a housing 143 extending upwardly therefrom. The housing 143 is formed of a forward wall 147, a rearward wall 148 and a pair of side walls 145, 146 extending therebetween, with forward and rearward being defined in the direction of travel of the travelling pipe cutter 100. The walls 145, 146, 147, 148 are attached to the base plate 142 and extending outwardly therefrom, and an outer plate 149 covering the outer ends of the walls 145, 146, 147, 148. Guide rollers 121 rotatably mounted on spindles 122 are attached to the inner carriage 136 to allow the travelling pipe cutter 100 to travel around the hollow vessel 120. The spindles 122 may be rotatably attached to the side walls 145, 146 or to the base plate 142.

    [0015] As shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, the base plate 142 has an inner surface 142a, an opposite outer surface 142b and side edges 142c, 142c', 142c", 142c"'. As shown, the base plate 142 is generally rectangular, but is to be understood that base plate 142 may take other forms. The base plate 142 has an aperture 137 extending into the base plate 142 from one side edge 142c' thereof, an aperture 139 extending through the base plate 142 and a recess 135 proximate to the aperture 139. The edge of the aperture 137 and the edge of the aperture 139 are separated from each other by a bridge portion 141 of the base plate 142. The bridge portion 141 has an outer surface 141a which is recessed inwardly from the outer surface 142b of the base plate 142.

    [0016] As shown in FIGS. 3 and 8, the gearbox assembly 132 extends through an enlarged aperture 153 in the side wall 146, and the gearbox assembly 132 is attached to the outer plate 149 by an adjustment mechanism 320 described herein. As shown in FIGS. 4 and 5, the side wall 145 of the housing 143 of the inner carriage 136 has a cutout 151 extending outwardly from an inner edge 145a, see FIG. 4, through which the spindle 284 of the cutting tool 270 extends from the gearbox assembly 132. The vertical position of the gearbox assembly 132 and the cutting tool 270 can be adjusted vertically relative to the inner carriage 136 by the adjustment mechanism 320 as described herein.

    [0017] The outer carriage 138 is formed of a pair of spaced apart plates 156, 157, see FIGS. 3-5, which are rigidly affixed to each other by the capstan assembly 130 and by the force adjustment assembly 140. Spacers 158, which may be a block and/or struts or tubes, may also be provided to rigidly affix the plates 156, 157 together. At each end of the plates 156, 157, a pair of grooved rollers 240, 242, 260, 262 are mounted on axles 263 that extends through the plates 156, 157. The grooved rollers 240, 242, 260, 262 are freely rotatable relative to the plates 156, 157. Grooved rollers 240, 260 form a groove for receiving a tension cable 250, see FIGS. 1 and 2, as discussed herein. Grooved rollers 242, 262 form a groove for receiving a feed cable 252, see FIGS. 1 and 2, as discussed herein. A plurality of guides 243 extend outwardly from the plate 156 and are used to hold the tension cable 250. A plurality of guides 245 extend outwardly from the plate 157 and are used to hold the feed cable 252.

    [0018] Referring to FIG. 9, each cable 250 and 252 extends around the hollow vessel 120 and connects at both ends to a respective tension interface cable assembly 1300 and 1310. Each tension interface cable assembly 1300, 1310 includes tension cable interface 1303, 1313 at one end connected with a respective cable 250, 252 and a respective chain 1302, 1312 with sprockets at an opposing end. At least some of the sprockets include projections 1305, 1315 which are inserted into one of a series of shafts 1306, 1316 formed on a lever tension interface 1307, 1317. Alternatively, other types of structures may be used, such as a link chain having links which are captured by members formed on the lever tension interface 1307, 1317. The chains 1302, 1312 and sprockets form an adjustable link coupling in that any one of a number of sprockets on the chain 1302, 1312 may be inserted into any one of a number of projections 1305, 1315 in order to adjust the eventual length of each cable 250, 252 so that the length of cable 250 is approximately equal to the length of cable 252. Equalizing the lengths of each cable 250, 252 helps reduce any imbalance between the cables 250, 252 before tensioning each cable 250, 252.

    [0019] The tension on each cable 250, 252 can be adjusted through each lever tension interface 1307, 1317. Each lever tension interface 1307, 1317 includes a tensioning lever 1301, 1311 which, when moved in a ratcheting motion, increases or reduces the overall length of a corresponding member 1308, 1318 and, in effect, reduces or increases the amount of tension on each cable 250, 252. An overall length of each lever tension interface 1307, 1317 is adjustable using the tensioning lever 1301, 1311. As the tension on each cable 250, 252 increases, the amount of downward force F1 and/or F2 applied to the travelling pipe cutter 100 increases. In particular, the amount of downward force applied to the outer carriage 138 is increased to cause the outer carriage 138 to pivot relative to the inner carriage 136.

    [0020] A torque wrench 1320, see FIG. 9, is used to ratchet the tensioning lever 1301, 1311 of the lever tension interfaces 1307, 1317. The torque wrench 1320 includes a display 1322 to allow the operator to know the tension being applied to the cables 250, 252.

    [0021] The force adjustment assembly 140 is used to change the vertical position of the outer carriage 138 relative to the inner carriage 136 to compensate for the travelling pipe cutter 100 going inwardly and outwardly as the travelling pipe cutter 100 travels around the exterior of the hollow vessel 120 in order to maintain constant pressure caused by the lever tension interface 1307, 1317. As shown in FIG. 4, the force adjustment assembly 140 includes a guide wheel adjuster 160 attached to the forward wall 147 of the housing 143 of the inner carriage 136 and as shown in FIG. 5, a guide wheel spring 162 attached to the rearward wall 148 of the housing 143 of the inner carriage 136.

    [0022] The guide wheel adjuster 160 is rigidly attached to the forward wall 147 of the housing 143 of the inner carriage 136 by suitable means, such as fasteners 163 (see FIG. 11), and extends upwardly therefrom. The guide wheel adjuster 160 extends between, and is pivotally attached to, the plates 156, 157 of the outer carriage 138.

    [0023] As best shown in FIG. 10, the guide wheel adjuster 160 includes a housing 164 having a first part 164a having a passageway 165 therethrough, and a second part 164b which partially closes an inner end of the passageway 165. A sleeve 166 seats within the passageway 165 of the housing 164. The sleeve 166 has a first part 166a having a passageway 167 therethrough, and a second part 166b which extends outwardly from an outer end 164c of the housing 164. The second part 166b includes a pair of pivot pins 172 extending therefrom. Bearings 168 surround the sleeve 166 and allow the sleeve 166 to slide relative to the housing 164.

    [0024] A position adjustment assembly 169 extends through the passageway 167 in the sleeve 166. The position adjustment assembly 169 includes a shank 174, a pin 177, a support 179 and a nut 182 which are connected together. The shank 174 extends through the passageway 167 of the sleeve 166, and has an inner end portion 174a which extends inwardly from the sleeve 166 and an outer end portion 174b which extends outwardly from the sleeve 166. The shank 174 is threadedly connected to the sleeve 166 at threads 173. A tool engaging recess 175 is formed in the outer end portion 174b of the shank 174. The shank 174 has a passageway 176 therethrough in which the pin 177 is mounted such that the pin 177 is perpendicular to the axis of the shank 174. The pin 177 engages an inner end of the sleeve 166. The support 179 is attached to the inner end of the shank 174 has recesses into which the pin 177 seats. Bearings 183 are provided between the second part 164b of the housing 164 and the support 179 to allow the position adjustment assembly 169 to rotate relative to the housing 164 and to the sleeve 166. The nut 182 is threadedly attached to the inner end portion 174a of the shank 174 and abuts against the bearings 183 to prevent the linear translation of the position adjustment assembly 169 relative to the housing 164 and to the sleeve 166.

    [0025] The housing 164 is fixedly attached to the housing 143 of the inner carriage 136 by fasteners 163. The pivot pins 172 extending from the sleeve 166 seat within apertures or recesses in the plates 156, 157 of the outer carriage 138 to allow the outer carriage 138 to pivot relative to the guide wheel adjuster 160.

    [0026] A force indicator 207 is provided on the guide wheel adjuster 160 to allow the operator to adjust the vertical position of the outer carriage 138 relative to the inner carriage 136 when tension is being applied by the lever tension interface 1307, 1317 on the travelling pipe cutter 100. The force indicator 207 is formed from a window 207a having indicia 207b thereon. Indicia 206 is provided on the sleeve 166 and is visible in the window 207a. When the guide wheel adjuster 160 is adjusted, a tool (not shown) is engaged with the tool engaging recess 175 and the position adjustment assembly 169 is rotated. Since the shank 174 cannot linearly translate relative to the housing 164, the rotation of the position adjustment assembly 169 causes the linear translation of the sleeve 166 via the threaded connection at threads 173. Since the sleeve 166 is attached by pivot pins 172 to the plates 156, 157 of the outer carriage 138, this causes the inward or outward movement of the outer carriage 138 relative to the inner carriage 136.

    [0027] The pivot pins 172 extending from the sleeve 166 seat within apertures or recesses in the plates 156, 157 of the outer carriage 138 to allow the outer carriage 138 to pivot relative to the guide wheel adjuster 160.

    [0028] As shown in FIG. 3, the guide wheel spring 162 is pivotally attached to the base plate 142 of the inner carriage 136 and is pivotally attached to the plates 156, 157 of the outer carriage 138. As best shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, the guide wheel spring 162 includes inner and outer housings 184, 185 forming a passageway 186 therethrough in which a plurality of springs 187, such as Belleville washers, are mounted on mated bars 188, and a closing assembly 189. The outer housing 185 is slidable relative to the inner housing 184 such that the outer housing 185 telescopes into and relative to the inner housing 184. The inner housing 184 is formed from a side wall 191 and an end wall 192. The opposite end of the inner housing 184 is open. The end wall 192 has a pair of pivot pins 193 extending therefrom which seat within recesses formed in the base plate 142 of the inner carriage 136. A mount 196 and a nut 198 seat on the outer end of the outer housing 185. The nut 198 is threadedly attached to the outer end of the outer housing 185 and secures the mount 196 on the shoulder 194 of the outer housing 185. A pair of pivot pins 199 extend radially outwardly from the mount 196. The mount 196 is rotationally affixed to the outer housing 185 by suitable means, such as pins 200. The closing assembly 189 seats in the outer end of the outer housing 185, bears against the springs 187 within the inner housing 184, and holds the springs 187 within the inner housing 184.

    [0029] The pivot pins 193 on the inner housing 184 seat within recesses 195 in the base plate 142 of the inner carriage 136 to allow the inner carriage 136 to pivot relative to the guide wheel spring 162. The pivot pins 199 on the mount 196 seat within apertures in the plates 156, 157 of the outer carriage 138 to allow the outer carriage 138 to pivot relative to the guide wheel spring 162.

    [0030] A force indicator 208 is provided on the guide wheel spring 162 to allow the operator to know how much tension is being applied by the lever tension interface 1307, 1317 on the travelling pipe cutter 100. The force indicator 208 is formed from a window 208a having indicia 208b thereon. Indicia 208 is provided on the outer housing 185 and is visible in the window 208a. When the tension is applied by the lever tension interface 1307, 1317, since the outer housing 185 is pivotally attached to the outer carriage 138 by pivot pins 199, the outer housing 185 moves relative to the inner housing 184 which causes the indicia 208 to move along the length of the window 208a and indicate to the operator the amount of tension.

    [0031] The tension provided by the guide wheel spring 162 can be adjusted to a desired set force before operating the travelling pipe cutter 100. To do so, an operator engages the lever tension interface 1307, 1317 to an initial "SET" position force as indicated by the guide wheel adjuster 160. This causes the springs 187 of the guide wheel spring 162 to compress or expand depending upon the direction of rotation of the lever tension interface 1307, 1317. The movement of the inner and outer housings 184, 185 relative to each other, and thus the movement of the outer carriage relative to the inner carriage, is then limited by the amount of spring force provided by springs 187.

    [0032] With reference to FIG. 1, the travelling pipe cutter 100 is supported on the generally cylindrical hollow vessel 120 for movement about the circumference of the hollow vessel 120 by the guide rollers 121. It should be understood that the travelling pipe cutter 100 may be adapted to be coupled to hollow vessels of any shape and size such as, for exemplar, oval, square, rectangular, or any other polygonal or arcuately perimetered vessel. The guide rollers 121 are positioned on a guide track assembly 230. Positioning the outer guide rollers 121 on the guide track assembly 230 allows the travelling pipe cutter 100 to make a more accurate cut of the hollow vessel 120. It will be readily apparent that the guide track assembly 230 can come in either a single unitarily formed piece or a plurality of sections that may be interconnected and fitted around the hollow vessel 120 to form a continuous track. Whether the guide track assembly 230 is a single unitarily formed piece or a plurality of sections, the guide track assembly 230 may be fastened to the hollow vessel 120 using fasteners 234.

    [0033] With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, at least one tension cable 250 is wrapped around the hollow vessel 120 and over the frame 105. The cable 250 may be guided over the frame 105 via a path. In one embodiment, a path is formed for guiding the tension cable 250 using the plurality of grooved rollers 240, 260 and the plurality of guides 243. Tension cable 250 is inserted or threaded through the pair of guides 243, and the cable 250 is tensioned against at least one and preferably both grooved rollers 240, 260 in order to apply a downward force F1 against the travelling pipe cutter 100 in order to press and hold the travelling pipe cutter 100 against the hollow vessel 120. In some exemplary embodiments, the downward force F1 is greater than about 11,000 N. In other exemplary embodiments, the downward force F1 is greater than about 21,000 N. In further exemplary embodiments, the downward force F1 is greater than about 36,000 N. This force F1 presses the travelling pipe cutter 100 against the hollow vessel 120 and helps the cutting tool 270 of the travelling pipe cutter 100 pierce through an outer surface and wall of the hollow vessel 120.

    [0034] In the illustrated exemplary embodiment, the grooved rollers 242, 262 receive the feed cable 252. The feed cable 252 may be used to provide additional force F2 down onto the frame 105, and/or the feed cable 252 may be used to drive the travelling pipe cutter 100 around the hollow vessel 120. Feed cable 252 is inserted or threaded through a pair of guides 245 and the grooved rollers 242, 262. The cable 252 is tensioned against at least one and preferably both grooved rollers 242, 262 in order to apply the further downward force F2 against the travelling pipe cutter 100 in order to press and hold the travelling pipe cutter 100 against the hollow vessel 120. In some exemplary embodiments, the downward force F2 is greater than about 11,000 N. In other exemplary embodiments, the downward force F2 is greater than about 21,000 N. In further exemplary embodiments, the downward force F2 is greater than about 36,000 N. This downward force F2 presses the travelling pipe cutter 100 against the hollow vessel 120 and helps the cutting tool 270 of the travelling pipe cutter 100 pierce through an outer surface and wall of the hollow vessel 120. Grooved rollers 240, 242 rotate about a first axis and grooved rollers 260, 262 rotate about a second axis with both the first and second axes aligned in a direction generally parallel with the outer surface and a central longitudinal axis of the hollow vessel 120.

    [0035] During the travel of the travelling pipe cutter 100 around the hollow vessel 120, if the travelling pipe cutter 100 encounters a bump or a dimple, the force adjustment assembly 140 is used to ensure the cut is accurate. When a bump is encountered, the outer housing 185 of the guide wheel spring 162 telescopes inwardly relative to the inner housing 184 and the outer carriage 138 moves inwardly relative to the inner carriage 136 as the cables 250, 252 press downwardly onto the outer carriage 138. When a dimple is encountered, the outer housing 185 of the guide wheel spring 162 telescopes outwardly relative to the inner housing 184 and the outer carriage 138 moves outwardly relative to the inner carriage 136. When the operator sees the bump or dimple, the operator will see a corresponding change in the force indicator 208 on the guide wheel spring 162; that is, the indicia 209 will move from the "SET" position toward one of the "MIN" or "MAX" positions as the outer housing 185 telescopes relative to the inner housing 184 when the outer carriage 138 moves relative to the inner carriage 136. To ensure a proper cut, the operator then adjusts the guide wheel adjuster 160 to correct this change back to the "SET" position on the force indicator 207. To adjust the guide wheel adjuster 160, a tool is engaged with the tool engaging recess 175 and the position adjustment assembly 169 is rotated. Since the shank 174 cannot linearly translate relative to the housing 164, the rotation of the position adjustment assembly 169 causes the linear translation of the sleeve 166 via the threaded connection at threads 173. Since the sleeve 166 is attached by pivot pins 172 to the plates 156, 157 of the outer carriage 138, this causes the inward or outward movement of the outer carriage 138 relative to the inner carriage 136. After the bump or dimple is passed, the indicia 209 will again move from the "SET" position toward one of the "MIN" or "MAX" positions as the outer housing 185 telescopes relative to the inner housing 184 when the outer carriage 138 moves relative to the inner carriage 136. The operator again readjusts the guide wheel adjuster 160 back to the "SET" position on the force indicator 207 by again engaging a tool with the tool engaging recess 175 of guide wheel adjuster 160 and rotating the position adjustment assembly 169. Again, since the shank 174 cannot linearly translate relative to the housing 164, the rotation of the position adjustment assembly 169 causes the linear translation of the sleeve 166 via the threaded connection at threads 173. Since the sleeve 166 is attached by pivot pins 172 to the plates 156, 157 of the outer carriage 138, this causes the inward or outward movement of the outer carriage 138 relative to the inner carriage 136.

    [0036] With reference to FIG. 2, in an embodiment, the feed cable 252 is engaged with the capstan assembly 130 which is more clearly shown in FIGS. 14-18. The capstan assembly 130 includes a housing 700 which is rigidly attached to the plate 157 of the outer carriage 138, a shaft 702 extending outwardly from the housing 700, a worm gear 704 seated within the housing 700 and affixed to the shaft 702 for rotation with the shaft 702, a bearing 707 mounted between the shaft 702 and the housing 700, a capstan 706, 1706 seated on an outer end of the worm gear 704, a fastener 708 threadedly attaching the capstan 706, 1706 to the worm gear 704, and a bearing 710 mounted between the worm gear 704 and the housing 700.

    [0037] The housing 700 has an outer wall 750, an inner wall 752, and a plurality of side walls 754a, 754b, 754c, 754d connecting the outer and inner walls together 750, 752. A recess 756 is provided within the housing 700 into which the worm gear 704 seats. A collar 701 is attached to the outer wall 750 of the housing 700 and the recess 756 extends therethrough. A passageway 758 is provided through one of the side walls 754b and is in communication with the recess 756.

    [0038] The worm gear 704 has a lower circular body 712 with a plurality of teeth 714 on its perimeter. The inner surface 716 of the body 712 is concave to form a concave recess 721. A central passageway 715 extends through the body 712. A shaft 718 extends outwardly from the body 712. The shaft 718 has a threaded central passageway 719 therethrough which is in communication with the passageway 715. The body 712 seats within the recess 756 in the housing 700 and the shaft 702 seats within the passageway 715. An inner portion of the recess 756 conforms in shape to the body 712. The shaft 718 extends through an outer portion of the recess 756 which is through the collar 701.

    [0039] The bearing 710 has an inner race 720 and an outer race 722 with a plurality of ball bearings 724 therebetween. As shown in FIG. 16, the bearing 710 is a duplex angular contact bearing. The bearing 710 seats around the shaft 718 of the worm gear 704 and within an outer portion of the recess 756 through the collar 701. The inner race 720 engages with the shaft 718 of the worm gear 704 such that the bearing 710 seats on the body 712 of the worm gear 714 and rotates with the worm gear 714. The outer race 722 is attached to the collar 701. The bearing 710 extends outwardly from the collar 701. The bearing 710 enables rotation of the worm gear 714 relative to the housing 700.

    [0040] A first embodiment of the capstan 706 is shown in FIGS. 14-16 and 19. A second embodiment of the capstan 1706 is shown in FIGS. 17 and 18.

    [0041] The first embodiment of the capstan 706 has a circular base wall 726 from which a skirt 728 depends. The skirt 728 depends from the base wall 726 and defines a generally concave recess 730 in the underside of the capstan 706. A passageway 736 extends through the base wall 726 and is in communication with the recess 730. The outer surface of the skirt 728 forms a cylindrical wall 738. A pair of spaced apart circular flanges 732, 734 extend radially outwardly from the skirt 728 at its inner and outer edges.

    [0042] The second embodiment of the capstan 1706 has a circular base wall 1726 from which a skirt 1728 depends. The skirt 1728 depends from the base wall 1726 and defines a generally concave recess 1730 in the underside of the capstan 1706. A passageway 1736 extends through the base wall 1726 and is in communication with the recess 1730. The outer surface of the skirt 1728 is formed from a pair of angled walls 1738a, 1738b which form a V-shape. As shown, the V-shape forms an included angle of 170 degrees; that is, each wall 1738a, 1738b is angled relative to the centerline of the capstan 1706 by 5 degrees.

    [0043] The fastener 708 is threadedly attached through the passageway 736, 1736 through the base wall 726, 1726 of the capstan 706, 1706 and threadedly engages with the threaded recess 719 in the worm gear 718 to rotationally fix the capstan 706, 1706 and the worm gear 718 together. The bearing 710, a portion of the shaft 718 of the worm gear 704 and the collar 701 of the housing 700 seat within the capstan recess 730, 1730. This arrangement allows for a lower profile of the capstan assembly 130 and, thus, a reduced height dimension of the travelling pipe cutter 100.

    [0044] The capstan assembly 130 is driven by a drive mechanism 740. The drive mechanism 740 includes a motor 760 connected to, and driving, a dual lead worm gear shaft 742 via a gearbox 744. A gearbox adapter 762 connects the gearbox 744 to the housing 700. The gearbox 744 is attached to the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 by a coupler 764. The coupler 764 is keyed to the gearbox 744 and to the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to rotationally fix the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to the gearbox 744. A key 766 extends outwardly from the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 and seats within a keyway 768 in the coupler 762. The keyway 768 is longer than the key 766 to allow the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to slide relative to the coupler 762 and relative to the gearbox 744, while rotationally fixing the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to the gearbox 744. The dual lead worm gear shaft 742 can slide relative to the gearbox 744.

    [0045] The dual lead worm gear shaft 742 is formed of two leads, which forms a thread form 746 on the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 which increases in thickness from one end of the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to the other end of the dual lead worm gear shaft 742.

    [0046] The dual lead worm gear shaft 742 is mounted between a worm gear adjuster 778 and a worm gear tensioner 780 that are threadedly connected to the walls 750, 752, 754c forming the passageway 758. A plurality of bearings 770 and washers 772 are sandwiched between the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 and the housing 700 to allow the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to rotate relative to the housing 700. A bearing 774 is sandwiched between the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 and the worm gear adjuster 778 to allow the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to rotate relative to the worm gear adjuster 778. A bearing 774 is sandwiched between the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 and the worm gear tensioner 780 to allow the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to rotate relative to the worm gear tensioner 780. The bearings 774 may be needle bearings. A seal 782 is provided between worm gear adjuster 778 and the dual lead worm gear shaft 742. A seal 782 is provided between worm gear tensioner 780 and the dual lead worm gear shaft 742.

    [0047] The worm gear adjuster 778 is formed from a cup-shaped body 784 which has a recess 786 in one end in which the bearing 774 and an end of the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 are seated, and a plurality of spaced apart openings 788 in the opposite end. The body 784 is threadedly connected to the housing 700. The body 784 may also be attached to the housing 700 by fasteners 790.

    [0048] The worm gear tensioner 780 is formed from a cup-shaped body 792 which has a passageway 794 therethrough in which the bearing 774 and the opposite end of the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 are seated, and a plurality of spaced apart openings 794 in the opposite end. The body 792 is threadedly connected to the housing 700. The body 792 may also be attached to the housing 700 by fasteners 796.

    [0049] The axial position of the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 can be altered relative to the teeth 714 on the worm gear 704 to reduce the backlash between the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 and the worm gear 704 to virtually zero. In order to change the axial position of the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 relative to the teeth 714 on the worm gear 704, the fasteners 790, 796 are removed or backed off such that they do not engage housing 700 and a tool (not shown), such as a spanner wrench, is engaged with the apertures 788 to rotate the worm gear adjuster 778 relative to the housing 700, and a tool (not shown), such as a spanner wrench, is engaged with the apertures 794 to rotate the worm gear tensioner 780 relative to the housing 700. The dual lead worm gear shaft 742 is rotated relative to the housing 700 and which causes the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to axially translate relative to the housing 700 until the backlash is reduced to the desired level. Thereafter, the worm gear adjuster 778 and the worm gear tensioner 780 are moved toward the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 to securely hold the bearings and washers 770, 772, 774 in place.

    [0050] The thread form 746 on the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 is interengaged with the teeth 714 on the worm gear 704. As such, rotation of the dual lead worm gear shaft 742 causes rotation of the capstan 706, 1706 via the worm gear 704 and the fastener 708. The motor 760 may be, for example, an electric motor, an electric servo motor, a fluid motor, an electric servo motor, a hydraulic motor, an air drive motor, etc. In some exemplary embodiments, the motor 760 may be a hydraulic motor with the hydraulic motor connected into a hydraulic circuit and suitable valving utilized to control the flow of oil to the motor 760.

    [0051] During use, the feed cable 252 seats on the wall 738, 1738a, 1738b of the skirt 728, 1728. In the first embodiment of the capstan 706, the flanges 732, 734 prevent the feed cable 252 from disengaging with the capstan 706. In the second embodiment of the capstan 1706, the V-shaped walls 1738a, 1738b prevent the feed cable 252 from disengaging with the capstan 1706. The drive mechanism 740 rotates the capstan 706, 1706 in either a clockwise direction or a counterclockwise direction as desired. With the feed cable 252 wrapped around the capstan 706, 1706 under tension, the capstan 706, 1706 may be used to drive the travelling pipe cutter 100 along the track 232 and around the hollow vessel 120 by simply rotating the capstan 706, 1706 using the drive mechanism 740.

    [0052] In some exemplary embodiments, the tension cable 250 and the feed cable 252 may each wrap around the same capstan or respective different capstans and either or both cables 250, 252 may be used to drive the travelling pipe cutter 100 along the track 232 and around the hollow vessel 120. Additionally, either or both cables 250 and 252 may be tensioned to provide a downward force F1 or F2 onto the frame 105. Furthermore, while only one tension cable 250 and one feed cable 252 are shown, multiple tension cables 250 and multiple feed cables 252 may be used to provide additional downward force or drive capabilities for the travelling pipe cutter 100.

    [0053] As discussed, each cable 250 and 252 extends around the hollow vessel 120 and connects at both ends to a respective lever tension interface 1307, 1317. The tension on each cable 250, 252 can be adjusted through each lever tension interface 1307, 1317. As the tension on each cable 250, 252 increases, the amount of downward force F1 and/or F2 applied to the travelling pipe cutter 100 increases. Additionally, the downward force F1, F2 can be adjusted by using the guide wheel adjuster 160 on the travelling pipe cutter 100 as discussed herein.

    [0054] In the travel of the travelling pipe cutter 100 about the hollow vessel 120, a cut 225 is made through a wall of the hollow vessel 120 by the cutting tool 270. In some exemplary embodiments, the cutting tool 270 may be a metal-cutting slitting saw and/or a bevel type form cutter.

    [0055] As shown in FIG. 23, the drive for rotation of the cutting tool 270 is derived from a motor 294 which is mounted to a change gear box 152 connected to the gearbox assembly 132. Motor 294 may be any type of motor such as, for example, fluid motor, electric motor, electric servo motors, hydraulic motor, air drive motor, etc. In some exemplary embodiments, the motor 294 may be a hydraulic motor with the hydraulic motor connected into a hydraulic circuit and suitable valving utilized to control the flow of oil to the motor 294.

    [0056] As best shown in FIGS. 23-26, the gearbox assembly 132 includes a housing 800 in which a drive shaft 802 is mounted. The drive shaft 802 extends through the side wall 146 of the inner carriage 136 and into the housing 800. The drive shaft 802 is connected to, and driven by, the change gear box 152 and the motor 294. A right-hand helical gear 804 and a left-hand helical gear 806 are mounted on the drive shaft 802 within the housing 800. Ends of the helical gears 804, 806 abut against each other. A plurality of needle roller bearings 808 surround the drive shaft 802 and engage with the housing 800 to allow the drive shaft 802 to rotate relative to the housing 800.

    [0057] The cutting tool spindle 284 extends through the opposite side wall 145 of the inner carriage 136 and into the housing 800. A right-hand helical gear 810 and a left-hand helical gear 812 are mounted on the spindle 284 within the housing 800. Ends of the helical gears 810, 812 abut against each other. The axis of rotation of the spindle 284 is parallel to, but offset from the axis of rotation of the drive shaft 802. The right-hand helical gear 810 on the spindle 284 interengages with the right-hand helical gear 804 on the drive shaft 802; the left-hand helical gear 812 on the spindle 284 interengages with the left-hand helical gear 806 on the drive shaft 802. A plurality of needle roller bearings 814 surround the spindle 284 and engage with the housing 800 to allow the spindle 284 to rotate relative to the housing 800. A plurality of roller bearings 816 are provided between the spindle 284 and the housing 800 to further enable the rotation. The roller bearings 816 are positioned between the needle roller bearings 814.

    [0058] A circular nut 818 is positioned on the spindle 284 to hold the bearings 814, 816 and gears 810, 812 onto the spindle 284. The circular nut 818 abuts against the bearings 814. As shown in FIG. 25, the nut 818 has a recess 820 therein in which a seal 822 is mounted. The seal 822 seats completely within the recess 820.

    [0059] Suitable O-rings are provided in the gearbox assembly 132 to seal the gearbox assembly 132 to prevent the leakage of internal lubrication fluids.

    [0060] The housing 800 has an inner surface 824 of which is generally planar, with the exception of first, second and third recessed portions 826, 828, 830 in its external surface. The first recessed portion 826 is provided between the helical gear 810 and the roller bearings 810. The internal surface of the housing 800 at this first recessed portion 826 abuts against the spindle 284. The first recessed portion 826 is sufficiently far along the length of the spindle 284 that the weight of the cutting tool 270 does not impact the structural strength of the housing 800 at this first recess 826. The second recessed portion 828 is provided proximate to the helical gear 812. The internal surface of the housing 800 at this second recessed portion 830 abuts against the helical gear 812. The third recessed portion 830 is provided between the helical gear 812 and proximate to the needle roller bearing 814 which is proximate to the helical gear 812. The internal surface of the housing 800 at this third recessed portion 830 abuts against the needle roller bearing 814. The second and third recessed portions 828, 830 are distant from the cutting tool 270, such that the weight of the cutting tool 270 does not impact the structural strength of the housing 800 at these recessed portions 828, 830.

    [0061] In use, the motor 294 engages the change gear box 152 which drives the gearbox assembly 132. In the gearbox assembly 132, the drive shaft 802 is rotated by this engagement which rotates the right-hand and left-hand helical gears 804, 806 mounted thereon. The rotation of the right-hand and left-hand helical gears 804, 806 on the drive shaft 802 causes the rotation of the right-hand and left-hand helical gears 810, 812 on the spindle 284, thereby rotating the cutting tool 270.

    [0062] With reference to FIG. 24, the travelling pipe cutter 100 includes the adjustment mechanism 320 to lower or raise the spindle 284 and associated the cutting tool 270, along with the gearbox assembly 132, in a vertical direction away from or a vertical direction towards the outer surface of the hollow vessel 120. The adjustment mechanism 320 can be rotated using a tool such as, for example, a power tool, drill or a hand ratchet wrench, either clockwise or counterclockwise, to move the spindle 284 and associated the cutting tool 270, along with the gearbox assembly 132 in a direction away from or a direction towards the outer surface of the hollow vessel 120 depending on the direction of rotation of the adjustment mechanism 320. When the spindle 284 and associated the cutting tool 270, along with the gearbox assembly 132 are moved toward the outer surface of the hollow vessel 120, the inner surface 824 of the housing 800 of the gearbox assembly 132 can engage with the base plate 142 of the inner carriage 136. When the inner surface 824 of the housing 800 engages with the base plate 142, the bridge portion 141 seats against the first recessed portion 826 such that the bridge portion 141 seats within the recess formed by the first recessed portion 826, the second recessed portion 828 seats within the aperture 139 and the third recessed portion 830 seats against the recess 135. That is, the inner surface 824 of the housing 800 is formed such that a portions passes through the base plate 142 and portions abut against the outer surface 142b of the base plate 142. This allows for the even further travel of the spindle 284 and associated the cutting tool 270, along with the gearbox assembly 132, relative to the inner carriage 134 and allows for a smaller dimensional height, thereby reducing the overall profile of the travelling pipe cutter 100. In addition, the use of needle roller bearings 808, 814, the use of the right-hand and left-hand helical gears 804, 806, 810, 812, and the provision of the seal 822 seated within the nut 818 allows the gearbox assembly 132 to have a smaller dimensional height, thereby reducing the overall profile of the travelling pipe cutter 100.

    [0063] As shown in FIG. 1, the guard assembly 134 for the cutting tool 270 is mounted on the side wall 145 of the housing 143 of the inner carriage 136. As best shown in FIGS. 27-31, the guard assembly 134 includes a housing 900 and a pair of guards 902, 904 which are moveable relative to the housing 900. The guards 902, 904 are moveable to expose more the cutting tool 270 as the cutting tool 270 is moved toward the hollow vessel 120.

    [0064] The housing 900 is formed of a first part 906 which is connected to a second part 908 by a hinge 910. The first and second parts 906, 908 form a cavity having an open end in which the cutting tool 270 seats as shown in FIG. 1.

    [0065] The first part 906 has an upright wall 906a with a flange 906b extending outwardly therefrom. The flange 906b extends around the outer end of the upright wall 906a, and partially around the side edges of the upright wall 906a. The inner end of the upright wall 906a has an aperture 909 therein through which the spindle 284 of the cutting tool 270 extends. The second part 908 includes an upright wall 908a with a flange 908b extending outwardly therefrom. The flanges 906a, 908a abut against each other. The flange 906b, 908b may be arcuate to mimic the shape of the perimeter of the cutting tool 270.

    [0066] The hinge 910 is connected to the outer ends of the first and second parts 906, 908 such that the second part 908 can be rotated outwardly relative to the first part 906 as shown in FIGS. 29-31. The hinge 910 may include a lock 912 for locking the hinge 910 into position such that rotation of the second part 908 relative to the first part 906 is prevented.

    [0067] The guards 902, 904 are attached to the second part 908 and moveable relative thereto to make the cavity larger or smaller. Each guard 902, 904 includes a generally pie-shaped side wall 902a, 904a with a flange 902b, 904b extending from the outer edges thereof. The flanges 902b, 904b overlay the flange 908b of the second part 908. As shown, each pie-shaped side wall 902a, 904a has an arcuate slot 914, 916 therethrough and a screw or pin 918, 920 is attached to the respective pie-shaped side wall 902a, 904a. The screws or pins 918, 920 extend through the slots 914, 916 and prevent the release of the guards 902, 904 from the second part 908. The guards 902, 904 can slide relative to the second part 908 with the screws or pins 918, 920 sliding along the slots 914, 916. It is to be understood that the screws or pins 918, 920 may be provided through the guards 902, 904 and the slots 914, 916 provided in the second part 908. As shown, guard 904 is attached to the upright wall 908a of the second part 908 by a hinge 918. The hinge 918 may be formed of a plate 921 attached to the second part 908 by a fastener 922 and attached to the guard 904 by at least one fastener 924. The plate 921 abuts against the outer surface of the upright wall 904a. The heads of the fasteners 924 will engage with the inner edge 908c of the second part 908 to prevent the further rotation of the guard 904 relative to the second part 908. If desired, a second hinge (not shown) can be attached between the second part 908 and the guard 902.

    [0068] The second part 908 and its attached guards 902, 904 can be rotated in a first direction 928 around the axis of the hinge 910 relative to the first part 906 to open the guard assembly 134 in order to service the cutting tool 270 housed within the cavity. The second part 908 and its attached guards 902, 904 can be rotated in a second, opposite direction to that of direction 928 around the axis of the hinge 910 relative to the first part 906 to close the guard assembly 134 in order to perform a cutting operation.

    [0069] During a cutting operation, as the cutting tool 270 is moved in direction toward the hollow vessel 120, the inner edges 902c, 904c of the guards 902, 904 engage the outer surface of the hollow vessel 120, and the guards 902, 904 rotate relative to the second part 908 in the directions 932, 934, see FIG. 29, around the axis of the hinge 918 formed by fastener 922. This exposes more the cutting tool 270. As the cutting tool 270 is moved in direction away from the outer surface of the hollow vessel 120, the guards 902, 904 move away from the outer surface of the hollow vessel 120 and rotate relative to the second part 908 in the directions opposite to directions 932, 934 to cover the cutting tool 270. This ensure that the cutting tool 270 is covered during operation to prevent accessing the cutting tool 120 during operation.

    [0070] An exemplary set-up and assembly of the track assembly 230 and travelling pipe cutter 100 is described. The track assembly 230 and travelling pipe cutter 100 may be set-up and assembled in a variety of different manners and all of such manners are intended to be within the scope of the present disclosure.

    [0071] FIG. 32 illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of a cutting tool 270' which may be substituted for the cutting tool 270 of the embodiment of FIG. 1 and which is used in a travelling pipe cutter according to the invention. FIG. 33 illustrates a side view of the cutting tool 270' of the embodiment of FIG. 32. FIG. 34 illustrates a top view of the cutting tool 270' of the embodiment of FIG. 32. As illustrated collectively in FIGS. 32-34, the cutting tool 270' comprises a conical member 1,000. The conical member 1,000 comprises a top surface 1,002, an outer conical surface 1,003, and a bottom surface 1,004. The outer conical surface 1,003 is disposed at an angle 1,006 of 50° (fifty degrees) relative to the top surface 1,002 of the conical member 1,000. In other embodiments, the outer conical surface 1,003 may be disposed at varying angles relative to the top surface 1,002.

    [0072] The conical member 1,000 comprises a hollow shaft 1,008 passing from the top surface 1,002 through the bottom surface 1,004. Grooves 1,010A and 1,010B are disposed in the bottom surface 1,004 of the conical member 1,000. The hollow shaft 1,008 allows for the drive shaft 802 (as shown and discussed in FIG. 24) to pass through the hollow shaft 1,008 in order to rotate the conical member 1,000 to cut the hollow vessel 120 (as shown and discussed in FIG. 1). The drive shaft 802 (as shown and discussed in FIG. 24) may be attached to the hollow shaft 1,008 using a pin or other fastening member attached to the drive shaft 802 and disposed in the grooves 1,010A and 1,010B of the bottom surface 1,004 of the conical member 1,000.

    [0073] The conical member 1,000 further comprises eight sets 1,010 of spaced-apart grooves 1,012 disposed in and around the outer conical surface 1,003 of the conical member 1,000. Each set 1,010 of grooves 1,012 comprises six separate grooves 1,012 disposed in staggered rows in the outer conical surface 1,003 between the top surface 1,002 and the bottom surface 1,004. In total, there are forty-eight grooves 1,012 disposed in the outer conical surface 1,003 of the conical member 1,000. Each of the forty-eight grooves 1,012 are identical in shape and size. The forty-eight grooves 1,012 form a semi-helix around the outer conical surface 1,003. In other embodiments, the conical member 1,000 may comprise a varying number of grooves 1,012 in varying shapes, sizes, configurations, and orientations.

    [0074] Forty-eight separate cutting members 1,014 are attached in fixed position to and partially within each of the respective forty-eight grooves 1,012 so that one of the cutting members 1,014 is disposed partially within each of the forty-eight grooves 1,012. The cutting members 1,014 are attached to the grooves 1,012 using fasteners 1,016. In other embodiments, the cutting members 1,014 may be attached within the grooves 1,012 using varying fastening mechanisms such as adhesive, press-fits, or other fastening mechanisms. Each of the cutting members 1,014 is triangular in shape and comprises opposed front and back surfaces 1,018 and 1,020 and side surfaces 1,022, 1,024, and 1,026. Side surface 1,022 in its entirety and portions of the side surfaces 1,024 and 1,026 and opposed front and back surfaces 1,018 and 1,020 extend out of the grooves 1,012 and above the outer conical surface 1,003. In other embodiments, the cutting members 1,014 may vary in shape, size, configuration, and orientation.

    [0075] As shown in FIG. 32, each groove 1,012 comprises bottom surface 1,028 and a cutting-member holding area 1,030. The bottom surface 1,028 is curved. In other embodiments, the bottom surface 1,028 may vary in shape. The cutting-member holding area 1,030 is shaped to hold the cutting member 1,014 in fixed position at an end 1,032 of the groove 1,012. The cutting-member holding area 1,030 is generally partially-triangular in shape to hold the triangular cutting member 1,014 in place at the end 1,032 of the groove 1,012. In other embodiments, the cutting-member holding area 1,030 may be in varying shapes configured to hold varying shaped cutting members 1,014 in place at the end 1,032 of the groove 1,012. The bottom surface 1,028 of the groove 1,012 provides for material relief as the cutting members 1,014 cut the hollow vessel 120 (as shown in FIG. 1) allowing for the cut-material to pass away from the cutting member 1,014 and into and out of the bottom surface 1,028 of the groove 1,012 to avoid interference with the cutting member 1,014. The grooves 1,012 of each set 1,010 are staggered radially in the radial direction 1,013 from one another around the outer conical surface 1,003 leaving radial space 1,015 between each of the grooves 1,012. The grooves 1,012 of each set 1,010 overlap in the axial direction 1,017. The cutting members 1,014 are each disposed at a specific angle 1,042 to allow equal spacing between them while the cutting tool 270' is running at the same time. This results in the load on the cutting tool 270' being equal instead of being incremental as the cutting members 1,014 advance into the hollow vessel 120 (shown in FIG. 1).

    [0076] As shown in FIG. 32, the cutting members 1,014 are each disposed at angle 1,042 relative to vertical axis 1,044. Angle 1,042 comprises 5° (five degrees). In other embodiments, angle 1,042 may vary. For instance, in one embodiment angle 1,042 may vary between 1 (one degree) and 45° (forty-five degrees). In other embodiments, angle 1,042 may further vary.

    [0077] As shown collectively in FIGS. 32-34, the forty-eight cutting members 1,014 and their respective grooves 1,012 are disposed at an inward angle in a semi-helix around the outer conical surface 1,003 of the conical member 1,000 allowing for efficient and accurate partial bevel cuts or pass-through cuts to be made in the hollow surface 120 (shown in FIG. 1) while at the same time siphoning off cut-material away from the cutting member 1,014 and into and out of the bottom surface 1,028 of the groove 1,012 to avoid interference with the cutting member 1,014. In other embodiments, the cutting tool 270', including its components, may vary in shape, size, configuration, or orientation.

    [0078] FIG. 35 illustrates a flowchart illustrating one embodiment of a method 1,050 for cutting a hollow vessel. The method 1,050 may use any of the pipe machining apparatus or cutting tools of the instant disclosure. In step 1,052, a pipe machining apparatus is used to cut the hollow vessel. The pipe machining apparatus includes a cutting tool comprising: a conical member; a plurality of grooves disposed in a semi-helix around an outer conical surface of the conical member; and a plurality of cutting members, wherein each of the cutting members is disposed in fixed position within one of the plurality of grooves at a non-zero angle relative to a vertical axis. In step 1,054, cut-material of the hollow vessel moves from the cutting members into and out of their respective grooves.

    [0079] In an optional step of the method 1,050, the cutting tool may travel around the hollow vessel while cutting through or beveling the hollow vessel. In another optional step of the method 1,050, an equal load on the cutting tool may be continually provided as the cutting members advance into the hollow vessel. In yet another optional step of the method 1,050, the cut-material may not interfere with the cutting members as a result of the plurality of grooves moving the cut-material of the hollow vessel away from the cutting members. In other embodiments, one or more steps of the method 1,050 may be modified in substance or in order, one or more steps of the method 1,050 may not be followed, or one or more additional steps may be added to the method 1,050.

    [0080] The Abstract is provided to allow the reader to quickly ascertain the nature of the technical disclosure. It is submitted with the understanding that it will not be used to interpret or limit the scope or meaning of the claims. In addition, in the foregoing Detailed Description, it can be seen that various features are grouped together in various embodiments for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure. This method of disclosure is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claimed embodiments require more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive subject matter lies in less than all features of a single disclosed embodiment.

    [0081] While various embodiments of the invention have been described, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that other embodiments and implementations are possible within the scope of the invention as defined by the claims.


    Claims

    1. A travelling pipe cutter (100) adapted to perform cutting-through or beveling of a hollow vessel (120) while travelling around the hollow vessel (120), comprising:

    - a carriage (136);

    - a cutting tool (270, 270') attached to the carriage (136), the cutting tool (270, 270') adapted to perform cutting-through or beveling of the hollow vessel (120) while travelling around the hollow vessel (120),

    characterized in that
    the cutting tool (270, 270') comprises

    - a conical member (1000);

    - a plurality of grooves (1012) disposed in a semi-helix around an outer conical surface (1003) of the conical member (1000); and

    - a plurality of cutting members (1014), wherein each of the cutting members (1014) is disposed in fixed position within one of the plurality of grooves (1012) at a non-zero angle relative to a vertical axis of the cutting tool, wherein the cutting tool (270, 270') further comprising a hollow shaft (1008) passing from a top surface (1002) of the conical member (1000) through a bottom surface (1004) of the conical member (1000), and a drive shaft (802) which is attached to and within the hollow shaft (1008) with the drive shaft (802) adapted to rotate the conical member (1000).


     
    2. The travelling pipe cutter (100) of claim 1,
    further comprising a plurality of sets (1010) of the plurality of grooves (1012) with each set comprising staggered rows of the plurality of grooves (1012) in the outer conical surface (1003).
     
    3. The travelling pipe cutter (100) of claim 2,
    wherein the grooves (1012) of each set are staggered in a radial direction in the outer conical surface (1003).
     
    4. The travelling pipe cutter (100) of claim 2 or 3,
    wherein the grooves (1012) of each set overlap in an axial direction.
     
    5. The travelling pipe cutter (100) of one of the preceding claims,
    wherein each of the cutting members (1014) is disposed in the fixed position within one of the plurality of grooves (1012) at the same non-zero angle relative to the vertical axis.
     
    6. The travelling pipe cutter (100) of one of the preceding claims,
    wherein the plurality of cutting members (1014) are each triangular.
     
    7. The travelling pipe cutter (100) of one of the preceding claims,
    wherein each of the plurality of grooves (1012) comprise a curved bottom surface (1028).
     
    8. The travelling pipe cutter (100) of one of the preceding claims,
    wherein each of the cutting members (1014) is disposed at an end (1032) of its respective groove (1012) with each respective groove (1012) adapted to provide material relief to pass material cut by each cutting member (1014) through and out of its respective groove (1012).
     
    9. A method of cutting a hollow vessel (120) characterized by

    - cutting a hollow vessel (120) using a travelling pipe cutter (100) as defined in one of the preceding claims of a pipe machining apparatus, and

    - moving cut-material of the hollow vessel (120) from the cutting members (1014) into and out of the plurality of grooves (1012).


     
    10. The method of claim 9,
    further comprising the cutting tool (270, 270') travelling around the hollow vessel (120) while cutting through or beveling the hollow vessel (120).
     
    11. The method of claim 9 or 10,
    further comprising continually providing an equal load on the cutting tool (270, 270') as the cutting members (1014) advance into the hollow vessel (120).
     
    12. The method of one of claims 9 to 11,
    further comprising the cut-material not interfering with the cutting members (1014) as a result of the plurality of grooves (1012) moving the cut-material of the hollow vessel (120) away from the cutting members (1014).
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Beweglicher Rohrschneider (100), der dazu ausgelegt ist, das Durchschneiden oder Abschrägen eines hohlen Behälters (120) auszuführen, während er sich um den hohlen Behälter (120) bewegt, umfassend:

    - einen Träger (136);

    - ein am Träger (136) befestigtes Schneidwerkzeug (270, 270'), wobei das Schneidwerkzeug (270, 270') dazu ausgelegt ist, das Durchschneiden oder Abschrägen des hohlen Behälters (120) auszuführen, während es sich um den hohlen Behälter (120) bewegt,

    dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass
    das Schneidwerkzeug (270, 270') Folgendes umfasst:

    - ein konisches Element (1000);

    - mehrere Nuten (1012), die in einer Halbspirale um eine äußere konische Fläche (1003) des konischen Elements (1000) angeordnet sind; und

    - mehrere Schneidelemente (1014), wobei jedes der Schneidelemente (1014) in einer festen Position innerhalb einer der mehreren Nuten (1012) unter einem Winkel ungleich null relativ zu einer vertikalen Achse des Schneidwerkzeugs angeordnet ist, wobei das Schneidwerkzeug (270, 270') ferner eine Hohlwelle (1008) umfasst, die von einer oberen Fläche (1002) des konischen Elements (1000) durch eine untere Fläche (1004) des konischen Elements (1000) verläuft, und

    eine Antriebswelle (802), die an und innerhalb der Hohlwelle (1008) befestigt ist, wobei die Antriebswelle (802) dazu ausgelegt ist, das konische Element (1000) zu drehen.
     
    2. Beweglicher Rohrschneider (100) nach Anspruch 1, ferner umfassend mehrere Sätze (1010) der mehreren Nuten (1012), wobei jeder Satz versetzte Reihen der mehreren Nuten (1012) in der äußeren konischen Fläche (1003) aufweist.
     
    3. Beweglicher Rohrschneider (100) nach Anspruch 2, wobei die Nuten (1012) jedes Satzes in einer radialen Richtung in der äußeren konischen Fläche (1003) versetzt sind.
     
    4. Beweglicher Rohrschneider (100) nach Anspruch 2 oder 3,
    wobei die Nuten (1012) jedes Satzes einander in einer axialen Richtung überlappen.
     
    5. Beweglicher Rohrschneider (100) nach einem der vorangehenden Ansprüche, wobei jedes der Schneidelemente (1014) in der festen Position innerhalb einer der mehreren Nuten (1012) unter demselben Winkeln ungleich null relativ zur vertikalen Achse angeordnet ist.
     
    6. Beweglicher Rohrschneider (100) nach einem der vorangehenden Ansprüche, wobei die mehreren Schneidelemente (1014) jeweils dreieckig sind.
     
    7. Beweglicher Rohrschneider (100) nach einem der vorangehenden Ansprüche, wobei jede der mehreren Nuten (1012) eine gekrümmte Bodenfläche (1028) umfasst.
     
    8. Beweglicher Rohrschneider (100) nach einem der vorangehenden Ansprüche, wobei jedes der Schneidelemente (1014) an einem Ende (1032) seiner jeweiligen Nut (1012) angeordnet ist, wobei jede jeweilige Nut (1012) dazu ausgelegt ist, eine Materialentlastung bereitzustellen, um von jedem Schneidelement (1014) geschnittenes Material durch seine jeweilige Nut (1012) und aus dieser hinaus zu befördern.
     
    9. Verfahren zum Schneiden eines hohlen Behälters (120), gekennzeichnet durch:

    - Schneiden eines hohlen Behälters (120) unter Verwendung eines beweglichen Rohrschneiders (100) nach einem der vorangehenden Ansprüche einer Rohrbearbeitungsmaschine
    und

    - Bewegen von geschnittenem Material des hohlen Behälters (120) von den Schneidelementen (1014) in die mehreren Nuten (1012) und aus diesen hinaus.


     
    10. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9,
    ferner umfassend, dass sich das Schneidwerkzeug (270, 270') während des Durchschneidens oder Abschrägens des hohlen Behälters (120) um den hohlen Behälter (120) bewegt.
     
    11. Verfahren nach Anspruch 9 oder 10,
    ferner umfassend das kontinuierliche Bereitstellen einer gleichmäßigen Belastung des Schneidwerkzeugs (270, 270'), während sich die Schneidelemente (1014) in den hohlen Behälter (120) vorschieben.
     
    12. Verfahren nach einem der Ansprüche 9 bis 11,
    ferner umfassend, dass infolge dessen, dass die mehreren Nuten (1012) das geschnittene Material des hohlen Behälters (120) von den Schneidelemente (1014) wegbewegen, das geschnittene Material die Schneidelemente (1014) nicht behindert.
     


    Revendications

    1. Coupe-tube mobile (100) adapté pour effectuer la découpe ou le chanfreinage d'un récipient creux (120) pendant le déplacement autour du récipient creux (120), comprenant:

    - un chariot (136);

    - un outil de coupe (270, 270') fixé au chariot (136), l'outil de coupe (270, 270') étant adapté pour effectuer la découpe ou le chanfreinage du récipient creux (120) pendant le déplacement autour du récipient creux (120),

    caractérisé en ce que
    l'outil de coupe (270, 270') comprend

    - un élément conique (1000);

    - une pluralité de rainures (1012) disposées en une semi-hélice autour d'une surface conique externe (1003) de l'élément conique (1000); et

    - une pluralité d'éléments de coupe (1014), chacun des éléments de coupe (1014) étant disposé en position fixe à l'intérieur d'une de la pluralité de rainures (1012) selon un angle non nul par rapport à un axe vertical de l'outil de coupe, l'outil de coupe (270, 270') comprenant en outre un arbre creux (1008) passant depuis une surface supérieure (1002) de l'élément conique (1000) à travers une surface inférieure (1004) de l'élément conique (1000), et

    un arbre d'entraînement (802) qui est fixé sur et dans l'arbre creux (1008), l'arbre d'entraînement (802) étant adapté pour faire tourner l'élément conique (1000).
     
    2. Coupe-tube mobile (100) selon la revendication 1,
    comprenant en outre une pluralité d'ensembles (1010) de la pluralité de rainures (1012), chaque ensemble comprenant des rangées décalées de la pluralité de rainures (1012) dans la surface conique externe (1003).
     
    3. Coupe-tube mobile (100) selon la revendication 2,
    dans lequel les rainures (1012) de chaque ensemble sont décalées dans une direction radiale dans la surface conique externe (1003).
     
    4. Coupe-tube mobile (100) selon la revendication 2 ou 3,
    dans lequel les rainures (1012) de chaque ensemble se chevauchent dans une direction axiale.
     
    5. Coupe-tube mobile (100) selon l'une des revendications précédentes,
    dans lequel chacun des éléments de coupe (1014) est disposé dans la position fixe à l'intérieur de l'une de la pluralité de rainures (1012) selon le même angle non nul par rapport à l'axe vertical.
     
    6. Coupe-tube mobile (100) selon l'une des revendications précédentes,
    dans lequel chacun de la pluralité d'éléments de coupe (1014) est triangulaire.
     
    7. Coupe-tube mobile (100) selon l'une des revendications précédentes,
    dans lequel chacune de la pluralité de rainures (1012) comprend une surface inférieure courbe (1028).
     
    8. Coupe-tube mobile (100) selon l'une des revendications précédentes,
    dans lequel chacun des éléments de coupe (1014) est disposé à une extrémité (1032) de sa rainure respective (1012), chaque rainure respective (1012) étant adaptée pour fournir une décharge de matériau pour faire passer le matériau coupé par chaque élément de coupe (1014) dans et hors de sa rainure respective (1012).
     
    9. Procédé de découpe d'un récipient creux (120) caractérisé par:

    - la découpe d'un récipient creux (120) à l'aide d'un coupe-tube mobile (100) selon l'une des revendications précédentes d'un appareil d'usinage de tubes;
    et

    - le déplacement du matériau de coupe du récipient creux (120) depuis les éléments de coupe (1014) dans et hors de la pluralité de rainures (1012).


     
    10. Procédé selon la revendication 9,
    comprenant en outre l'outil de coupe (270, 270') se déplaçant autour du récipient creux (120) tout en coupant ou en chanfreinant le récipient creux (120).
     
    11. Procédé selon la revendication 9 ou 10,
    comprenant en outre la fourniture continue d'une charge égale à l'outil de coupe (270, 270') lorsque les éléments de coupe (1014) avancent dans le récipient creux (120).
     
    12. Procédé selon l'une des revendications 9 à 11,
    comprenant en outre le matériau coupé n'interférant pas avec les éléments de coupe (1014) en raison de la pluralité de rainures (1012) déplaçant le matériau coupé du récipient creux (120) à l'écart des éléments de coupe (1014).
     




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    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description